Postmaster general defends USPS changes amid Georgia mail delays

Mailboxes in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

This story was updated on Wednesday at 10:42 a.m.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is under scrutiny as significant mail delays plague Georgia following changes implemented by the U.S. Postal Service. 

Georgia residents and officials alike have demanded swift solutions to address the ongoing disruptions.

In a committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff pressed DeJoy for answers regarding a 36% decline in on-time delivery of first-class mail since the reorganization and opening of a new regional processing and distribution center in Palmetto at the end of February.

DeJoy explained the challenges, acknowledging the difficulties despite a phased approach meant to mitigate disruptions. 

“We had to move 2,000 people from all these different plants into one location,” he said. “We have strict requirements as to when they move. It’s a big facility that we opened up. We have inbound transportation issues.”

He projected a 60-day timeline to improve services.

Ossoff’s response underscored the urgency of the situation, emphasizing that DeJoy doesn’t have much time to rectify the issue, expressing doubt about DeJoy’s fitness for the role if improvements are not swiftly implemented.

“You’ve got weeks, not months to fix this. And if you don’t fix it, 36% on-time delivery, I don’t think you’re fit for this job,” he said. 

In March, only 42% of first-class mail was delivered on time in Georgia, resulting in a five-day average delivery time. This contrasts starkly with February’s 81% on-time delivery rate and a three-day average. 

The Palmetto facility’s impact on mail service has triggered concerns among members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation. They have raised issues about delayed or missing mail affecting the delivery of crucial items such as medicine, tax returns and absentee election ballots.

In response to mounting pressure, some members have invited DeJoy to visit Georgia and address the situation firsthand. The Postal Service issued an apology and outlined plans for improvement, including investments in new sorting machines.

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